Family adventure in Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park.

By Travel & Leisure
August 28, 2012
Credit: NPS Photo

Southwestern Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park contains more than 4,000 significant archeological sites. For more than 700 years, from A.D. 600 to 1399, the area was home to Ancestral Pueblo people, who left behind 600 cliff dwellings, which range in size from one room to 150. To feel transported to another time, check out the most notable: Cliff Palace and Balcony, Long, Spruce Tree, and Step houses.

Far View Lodge

The Altitude: 8,000 feet.

The Perch: The aptly named Far View Lodge sits in Mesa Verde National Park, on the same soaring bluff where Ancestral Pueblo Indians made their now ancient cliff dwellings.

The Journey: You’ll take a steep, 15-mile former wagon trail from the park entrance gate to the lodge, teetering over canyons, ridges, and hairpin switchbacks the whole way.

The Best View: Many of the Santa Fe–style Kiva rooms have vistas that take in hundreds of miles across four states. Book a Kiva suite to see into Soda Canyon, or stay in the main lodge to spy New Mexico’s volcanic Shiprock in the distance. Scan the closer terrain too— you might spot a bobcat, mountain lion, or the herd of wild horses that have staked a claim here.

Far View Visitor Center

Stop in to buy tickets for ranger-led tours to the park’s three most dramatic and important cliff dwellings: Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House.

Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum

View the excellent exhibits on the region’s Ancestral Puebloan culture.

Metate Room

The Metate Room restaurant at the Far View Lodge, whose soaring windows afford views of all the Four Corner states, serves Native American dishes like blue corn–dusted trout.